Playwright Lewis Hetherington presents a refreshing new take on the traditional tale of Sleeping Beauty at Platform this Christmas. Addressing the fact that in the regular re-telling poor beauty is either off stage or in her bed sleeping throughout most of the production. This time our “B” (Yolanda Mitchell) is a feisty teenager with an independent spirit, confined by her loving dad Jimmy (Irene Allan) (who loves to dress up and impersonate Elvis) to the family mattress shop, but B longs for bigger things and a world outside the four walls. She sneaks out every night to the local woods with her trusty dog Rocket (Itxaso Moreno) looking for adventure. There is, of course, a curse, but there’s a twist in the tale that you’ll have to go along and find out.
This is an atmospheric, engaging fairy tale where gripping storytelling is at the front and centre of the production. There are moments of real darkness and light throughout. There are also plenty of the usual panto tropes to satisfy the traditionalists: an evil queen (Jo Freer) and her sidekick (Julia Nsimba); a spooky forest; magical creatures; puns a-plenty. It’s chock-full of familiar hits with cleverly re-written lyrics all sung by the hugely talented, fine-voiced cast. The cast are strong and cohesive and drive the action along. The fantastic set by Claire Halleran is relatively simplistic but fills the stage perfectly and looks gorgeously creepy. The set is also complemented by creative lighting by Michaella Fee. Lewis Heatherington’s Sleeping Beauty delivers throughout and serves us up the much-wanted happy ending.
The economical running time (just over an hour) is perfect to keep the tiniest audience members fully engaged and the ticket prices are affordably priced for many. This is (slightly non-) traditional storytelling at its best. Platform in Easterhouse is a true gem in the East End and the constant, consistently highly quality of their productions deserve to be seen by as wide an audience as possible, Sleeping Beauty is no exception.
Runs until 23rd December – tickets here: Sleeping Beauty : Platform (platform-online.co.uk)
There has thankfully been a seismic shift in the Pantosphere in recent years to reflect the society we actually live in, and at the forefront has been the Tron Theatre, and more specifically those works from the pen of the wonder boy of panto fabulousness, Johnny McKnight. That said, this is the festive show I’ve attended since childhood and from the days of Peter Capaldi, Forbes Masson, Alan Cumming and Craig Ferguson, it has never felt the need to conform to Christmas norms or patronise its audience. It has a special place in my heart and year on year it never fails to entertain on every level and for every age.
The smashing of gender stereotypes features large in this year’s offering Cinderfella, and boy do they do it with tons of style and even more humour. Poor, orphaned Cinderella is fighting to keep her late parent’s vintage store afloat, her only hope is to meet fashion entrepreneur Princess Charmaine and persuade her to invest in the failing family business. However, the only way a poor pleb like Cinderella can get near the Princess is to get an invite to her annual ball. However, this year the guest-list is a male-only affair – so what’s a girl to do?…
The music is chart-toppingly catchy and composer Ross Brown has obviously caught West End smash Six, another celebration of female strength, there’s also a nod to You’ve Got a Friend in Me in Muttons big solo number.
The all-female cast is absolutely dynamite. Sally Reid, all wide-eyed innocence and guilelessness is the titular hero and her comic timing is masterful. Lauren Ellis-Steele doubles up as “Scotland’s answer to Beyoncé” (more an Adele look-and-sound-alike) and also the Wicked Stepmother – it’s a perfectly pitched performance and Ellis-Steele has a fine set of pipes, and as with all McKnight festive offerings, she gets to go full-on Mariah in All I Want For Christmas, the song that traditionally brings the shows to an end. Jo Freer as Cinderella’s loyal sheep side-kick Muttons is a scene stealer as are Hannah Jarrett-Scott and Daisy Ann Fletcher as Cinders’ hapless and hopeless step-brothers Harry and Larry in eye-popping male-drag.
This ‘estrogen epidemic’ is so well conceived and so well delivered, you can’t fail to be thoroughly entertained and its message of female self-reliance will make your heart soar. I can’t praise it highly enough – a fantastic, five star, festive feast.
Image: John Johnstone